Monthly Archives: June 2012

Be Back Soon!

TODAY

light blessings

 

TODAY

Today is here. I will begin with a smile and resolve to be agreeable.

I will not criticize. I refuse to waste the valuable time God has given me.

Today has one thing in which I know I am equal with others—time.

All of us draw the same salary in seconds , minutes, and hours.

Today I will not waste time because the minutes I wasted yesterday are lost as a vanished thought.

Today I refuse to spend time worrying about what might happen. I am going to spend my time making things happen.

Today I am determined to study to improve myself, for tomorrow I may be needed, 

and I must not be found lacking.

Today I begin by doing and not wasting my time. In one week I will be miles beyond the person I am today.

Today I will not imagine what I would do if things were different. I will make  a success with what material I have.

Today I will stop saying, “if I find time,” or “If I had time,” for I never will “find time” for anything. If I want time I must make it.

Today I will act toward other people as thought this will be my last day on earth. I will not wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

This was given to me years ago. I keep it on my refrigerator. This evening, as I was preparing dinner, I stopped and read it. It was truly the message I needed this evening. I felt led to pass this on and share with my readers.

Blessings-

Identity Theft

English: A keyboard with clutter on it to illu...

In my previous post The Right Place, I share about how I have been going on what I call a moving drill and making sure things around the home front are in the right place. As the post progresses, I share about how we need to have our hearts in the right place with God and to trust that He puts us in the right places each and every day.

Friday, as I was marking boxes to be carried out of here, I found it ironic that I received a preview to the magazine, Simplify Your Life (A Simpler and Happier Life).  Of course, I am all about simplifying life anyway I can and I immediately began scanning the articles featured. These articles were tips of how to de-clutter your home, the best methods for de-cluttering, how to clean, reset priorities and setting a routine to avoid future clutter of our home. There were a couple of things in this publication I received that really struck a chord with me. “Clutter saps energy and reduces your ability to concentrate.” “Clutter costs money.”  They explain how people will collect things from matchbooks, coffee cups (guilty!), stuffed animals, stamps and the list goes on. Yet, what really made me sit down and think was the statement; “Behind it all is an ancient need in everyone to identify ourselves with something.”  For the first time, I realized that all the “stuff” we clutter our homes and lives with is really stealing our identity in who we are created to be in this world.

Not only did I receive this publication in the mail about de-cluttering the home, in Sunday worship the minister’s topic was “But Wait..” He shared how marketers use methods to convince us that we need certain items in order to have a happy life. As he shared this comment, I snickered to myself because my son is in the marketing/advertising business. The minister went on to share from his personal experience of how he had crammed “stuff” into his life. In other words, he rushed here so he could rush there. Our world defines success by how much we can do in a day, how full we can fill our calendars and how many hours we can stay awake to work from sun up to sun down. Yet, he learned the hard way that all this rushing from here to there, working unlimited hours only landed him in bed with an illness that took him a while to recover from.

Then, this morning as I was getting ready for my day, my favorite author, Andy Andrews was being interviewed. Again, the business of life was the subject of the day. Andy commented on how people who are suddenly diagnosed with cancer suddenly realize what is truly important in life. In other words, what the world of stuff says is important is no longer important What is important is hearing the birds sing, taking a walk with a family member or friend. In other words, it is the simplicities of life that become most important.

Think about what brings you true joy. Now, think about those “things” that are cluttering up your home. How much joy are they bringing you? Do they greet you with a smile when you come and go? Do they thank you for dusting them? Do they love you back?

Let’s take those questions a step further. Think about your daily schedule. Do you find yourself constantly on the phone? How many of those phone calls can actually wait?  After all, ten plus years ago either you were at home or you weren’t. Or, your phone line was busy. You and the person trying to contact you survived didn’t you? How much time are you spending on Facebook, Twitter, and just surfing the internet when you could be reading a book, visiting with a family member or having family night around the table with a game?( Yes, I am writing to myself as I lists these questions.)

Okay, let’s go one step further. How much to do you rush here and rush there. You arrive at places out of breath and you can’t enjoy the moment you’re in because in the back of your mind you are thinking about the next obligation that is already on the horizon? When you sit down and think about all of these questions, you soon realize how much this “stuff” material and non-material are stealing your identity. I know it was an eye opener for myself as I put myself through this evaluation process. It is time we stop allowing “things/stuff” stealing our identity and take our identity back. Our identity is in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are daughters and sons of the King of all kings! In our identity in Christ, we are encouraged to invest our time into people and into God’s kingdom. Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 6:19-21? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your heart is , their heart will be also.”  Wow! Jesus didn’t beat around the bush in speaking to us about where our hearts and treasures should be.

Many times when we talk about collections/treasures we think we are investing in things that will give our children and grandchildren a heritage. But, in this same publication they said  “Generally, the beloved children declare that around 95% of the cherished items are not even things they would want. If this hasn’t happened to you, just ask a friend or neighbor!”

In all honesty, in looking back, the best treasures that have been given to me are being taught the importance of what it means to be a Child of God and to be in relationship with him. Then there are those treasures where  people invested their time and themselves to encourage me, prayed with me, mentored me, and simply took time to be a friend to me. Other treasures are the times I have spent walking or riding through the mountains enjoying the artistry of my Master, just sitting in the quiet of my home  and hearing the birds singing and children at play.

I challenge you to go through your home and look at your “stuff” and evaluate what it is doing for you. Evaluate your calendar, phone log, and how many text messages you send out in a day. How important are some of them? Could they have waited? Then, as you evaluate, ask God to help you see what is really important and get rid of the things that are not important. In this process, focus on God’s word even more. Trust me, as you do these things, you will be amazed at how much your perspective on life and priorities will change.

So, how about it? Isn’t it time you quit allowing “things/clutter steal your identity of who you really are? After all, you are a Child of God, Son/Daughter of the King! Go ahead, re-claim your identity in the Almighty! And, know that it’s the best treasure you could ever leave your loved one.

Blessings-

April:

Seek the Kingdom of God

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Spam. When we hear this word we no longer think of the distasteful luncheon meat but we think of it as junk that comes into our email, blog sites and Facebook. In recent days, I have been hit by SPAM. In my comment section, I received some nicely worded comments which at first when reading thought  these comments sounded okay. Being on a tight schedule this week, I hastily let these comments through. This evening, I  screened some of these comments. Needless to say,  they needed to be SPAMMED and trashed! I was even appalled that some of these had slipped past me and got posted on my comments. The readers that were making what sounded like nice thoughts and said that they appreciated my encouraging words,  were deceiving me into allowing their links to be seen on my site.  Needless to say, some of these links are…

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The Right Place

This past week I have been busy doing what I call a “moving drill.” No, we don’t actually move but we clean out like we would if we were moving. Growing up in a minister’s home who moved every four to five years, you learn to not accumulate so much “stuff.”  The motto I have for our home is if you haven’t used or worn  it in six months to a year, you are probably not going to wear or use it so send it on out the door.

Along with this “moving drill” comes organization. Yes, I am a person that is particular of where things go and belong. My rule is everything has a place and it is important to put that item back into the right place once you are done using it. Yes, I must confess that there are times when life gets busy and things become in some disarray thus the need for the bi-yearly “moving drill.”   When things are in the right place, it usually decreases the amount of the question; “where’s my….?” being asked.

The other day I came across a sign that said; “It is not lost until Mom cannot find it.”  This is so true for this household. There have been countless times while my son was growing up where I had to hunt down that notebook, running shoes or house key because these items were not put in the place that had been designated.  My son is now 25 and married and you would think that the days of “where’s my….?” were over! This is far from the truth. You see, I still live with my loving husband whom I have known for 29 years and have been married to for 27 years.  More than once during the week, I will get the question; “where’s my…..?”  As this question is being asked, I begin to ask my series of  Sherlock Holmes questions and begin the search. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time I will find the misplaced item. Thus, gaining the nickname from my husband; “google Peanut.” (Peanut has been my nickname since childhood).

Before I began to clean out these last couple of weeks, Jim and I enjoyed a trip to the Smoky Mountains. We consider the Smokey Mountains as our second home because that is the area were our lives met.  On this trip, we did a first. We took a pet with us. Yes, my one-year old Smokey went with us. Jim, Smokey and I all learned something new about each other and about God’s plan for our family.

April, Jim and Smokey
Gatlinburg, TN
May 27, 2012

Within the first few days of arriving in the Smoky Mountains, people would see us out and about with Smokey and would ask if they could touch him, pat him or scratch his belly. As they would pat and/or rub Smokey, tears would begin to stream down their faces. Then, they would begin to share their story with us.  Their story was a story of grief and/or deep pain from within. After they would share their story, they would thank us for letting them pat Smokey and for listening to their story.

Smokey posing in front of Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company
Gatlinburg, TN
May 26, 2012

Mid-week of this trip, Jim and I took turns just sitting on a park bench in one of the courtyard areas next to a fountain. Jim would sit with Smokey for a while so I could shop and look around. Then, we would switch up. As the both of us took turns sitting on this bench with Smokey, different people would come up and sit down and just begin talking to us. At first, they would be at the other end then before the conversation was over, they would be right next to Smokey rubbing him and sharing their story. After a couple of hours, Jim, Smokey and I moved on with our day. Later that day, Jim and I begin to share the stories we had heard. As we reminisced, we both realized that we had been ‘at the right place at the right time.’  I truly believe that God placed Smokey in my life and then placed us in those strategic places and moments of time to be His earthly messengers of His unconditional love and grace.

Smokey and Jim enjoying cruising in the Smokey Mountains
Taken on the Roaring Fork Motor Loop
Gatlinburg, TN

I don’t believe in coincidence, but I believe in God’s timing and His putting all things and people in ‘right place at the right time.’  Every day God places each person in our path for a reason. Sometimes these people need us. Other times, we may need those people. Then, there are those times when people in our path make us understand ourselves better and God’s plan for our life. They make us evaluate if our heart is in the ‘right place’ for the day.   

During this trip, I learned about myself. God showed me where I need to put things that had gotten cluttered or in disarray back into order.  In other words, He put me in check of my having my heart in ‘the right place.’ You see, when our heart is not in the right place, we become out of tuned of God’s voice and His plan for our lives.

Since our return home, not only have I gotten rid of clutter in my home, I have gotten rid of clutter in my heart. In that cleaning out, I hear the voice of God calling. Once the summer winds down, it is my plan to talk with volunteer services at our local hospital and a couple of nursing homes about bringing Smokey to minister to those who are hurting and who may feel alone in life. In the meantime, I continue to allow God to lead because I know each and every day He puts me in the ‘right place at the right time.’

“Wonder what God has planned for us today?”

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I lead them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” Hosea 11:3-4

“God’s work includes training you in love to be what He has created you to be.” (Experiencing God Bible)

Be in tuned to God’s voice and know that He will always put you in the ‘right place.’

Blessings-

(By the way, we still have the attic to sort through but will have to wait until the heat of summer is over to tackle that one! )


Forgive and Forget?

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians  3:12-13

All of us have experienced hurt in our lives. Sometimes these hurts stung and cut us deep within our soul. In the midst of the hurt, others seek to give us advice. Two phrases come to mind that people express during a time of hurt either by themselves or others share as advice. The first phrase is “forgive, forget and move on.” The other phrase is “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget.”

Did you know that these two phrases really go hand in hand? Yes, we need to forgive to remove the control the hurt and the person has over our lives at that moment. We need to give the hurt to God and allow him to heal it and we do need to move on in our journey.

Now, what about the not forgetting? Once we have forgiven and moved on, it is important to extend a hand of forgiveness and Christ-like love to the person who hurt us. But, we must not forget what brought the hurt into play not to have as a revenge when something happens but to know what lead to the hurt to begin with. In this type of remembering, we are taking the hurtful experience and turning it into a learning experience in order to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else ourselves.

Once we have forgiven, forgot the hurt by giving it to God, and realized the events that lead up to the hurt does not mean we have to be best friends with the person who hurt us. But, it does mean that we treat that person with respect, we lend a hand to them when they may be hurting and we love them with Christ-like love.

For me personally, I have walked through this experience more than once. Someone hurt me and sometimes the hurt was deep. Though I so much wanted to hurt back I didn’t. Instead, I placed the hurt into God’s hands and allowed Him to heal me.  In the midst of the healing process, I learned more about myself and my eyes were opened to events that may have led to the hurtful situation.

 Though I did not understand why I had gone through the valley, God eventually unfolded His plan of how it would all work for His glory. In other words, there was a person who hurt me that became the person who was hurt. No, not hurt by me but by someone else or some situation. As this person began to walk through their valley, they came to me to vent and sort out what had happened and their feelings.    You see, I had shed those very tears they were shedding and had felt that kick in the gut they were feeling at that moment. It was in my letting go, seeking forgiveness and learning from my experience that God had equipped me to walk through the valley with this person.

Yes, we all go through the valley of hurt from time to time. In the midst of this valley, we question God. We as Him why he would allow such a hurt to take place. Yet, when it is all said and done, we must realize that He is in that moment all the way through. He can turn that time of hurt, tears and anger into something that will eventually work for his glory.

Has someone hurt you deeply? How about forgiving that person and giving the hurt to God. Allow God to heal that hurt. Then, as you go through the journey look back on the situation and remember what you learned but use that knowledge for God’s glory, You never know when the tables will be turned and you will be walking through the valley with someone who is hurting. Who knows, it may be the very person who hurt you. From the eyes of heaven, it becomes a beautiful picture.

Lead to Follow

The other day I came across a sign that said;Train up a child in the way he should go, and “make sure you are going that way, too.”  Of course the earlier part of this statement comes from Proverbs 6:22 and the last part of this statement hits the nail on the head with us parents.  As parents, we are commissioned to care, love and nurture our children.

Parenting these days is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, Jim and I have noticed how the world has changed drastically since our son, Drew graduated high school and, for the most part, college.  There are so many influences out there both good and bad. Of course, we want our children to be exposed to the good influences and shielded from the bad ones.

How do we raise our children in such a way? First, we must pray with our children and for our children. As Drew was approaching his middle school years, a dear  friend in my Sunday School class at the time encouraged me along with others to pray Psalm 91 daily for our children. This is a Psalm for protection.

Second, as parents we must be willing to do what we expect our children to do. For example, Jim was listening to Dr. James Dobson. As he listened he heard Dr. Dobson give this advice. “If we expect our children to clean their rooms, then we need to make sure our rooms are just as clean.”  In other words, our expectations, words and actions better match what we are telling and expecting from our children. To me, children are probably the first to pick up on hypocrisy and they are watching and taking notes more than we can ever realize.

Third, we need to encourage our children to read the scriptures and teach them how to experience and hear God’s voice within the scriptures and in their daily walk. When our son, Drew turned 13, Jim’s gift to Drew was to open the bible to the book of Proverbs and told Drew that this is the best advice he could give him as a dad. Apparently, Drew did as he was advised from his dad because now when I am tempted to color or highlight my hair Drew quotes Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”  

Fourth, we must realize that our children are given to us for a short period of time. Yes, as parents,we wish we could slow down time and keep them for a little longer. We must realize, though, that God placed them into our hands for a short period of time and then the time comes for us to place them back into the hands of God.

This last lesson was not an easy one for me being a mom of an only child. I will never forget Drew coming home and telling me he wanted to move to Chicago after he graduated college. Of course, the selfish part of me wanted him to move back to the small town he grew up in and live just a few minutes down the street. But deep within my soul, I knew that my role was about to change significantly as a parent and now it was time for Drew to follow God’s voice. Drew knew that God had a plan for him in Chicago and he had to go.  He lived in Chicago for almost two years and then God opened other doors of opportunities for him in Atlanta where he and his wife currently reside.

As hard as it was to let go and let Drew leave, I knew that I would not be leading by example if I hung on to the apron strings and tried to persuade Drew to stay close to home. After all, my husband and I have always lived away from family and I grew up living away from family. I knew the drill and all that would be involved in Drew’s living away from home.  As Drew packed to leave the nest, I prayed that I had shown him how to survive when family was not around. Along with learning how to bloom where he was planted, he needed to know that the people you surround yourself with away from home soon become your family.

At this moment as I write this post, there is someone’s child announcing to their family that they will be venturing out to new places and opportunities. I know that selfishness wants to kick in and convince that child how they need to stay close to home. But it is so important that the child be supported and respected in their decision. If it is in their decision to venture out, they need to be influenced by the leadership that raised them, following their God who created them in His image.

Yes, there are days when I wish we lived in more simple times. It would sure be simple to have family just a minute down the road and I didn’t have to plan months and/ or a year in advance to see them again.  But, our world is rapidly changing and opportunities for our children seem to be taking them to places that we would have never have dreamed about going to when we were their age.

Looking back in  our Christian heritage, I recall a group of twelve men who were asked to drop everything to follow their Master. Yes, they had families that they left to follow the call of God. These twelve men saw first hand of what it meant to lead and to follow. I am sure that they missed their families at times and wished they could run down the street to check in with them.  Though they missed their families,  they experienced miracles, blessings and God up close and personal. What an opportunity they had been given! As parents, I would like to think that we would want the same for our children. By letting go and placing them into God’s hands, we are allowing God to give them opportunities, life lessons, and a chance to experience their Master up close and personal.

My last piece of advice from one parent to another is to continue to pray for them. I encourage you to pray Psalm 91 over them daily. Again, my son, Drew is twenty-five and married but there is not a day that I don’t pray Psalm 91 not only for him but for his sweet wife, Megan, too.  It is in praying this daily over them  that gives me strength to keep placing them and trusting them in the Master’s hand as they follow Him.

“Are you leading your children to follow their Master?” and Are you going the same direction you are telling your children to go?  Take this thought with you; “our actions and reactions will make or break our relationship with our children in the years to come.”  How about it? Lead to follow?

Blessings

** I highly recommend the book,  Leaving the Light On by John Trent Ph. D and Gary Smalley.

Still Grovin’


Dear Jim:

Memorial Day weekend marked twenty-nine  years of our first meeting.  A few days after we met, (June 4th to be exact) it was a milestone birthday for you. You were away from home, working at Lake Junaluska, NC and celebrating your 21st birthday with people you just met. In that group included me who could not bear the thought of you not having a cake with candles to blow out on your birthday. On short notice of learning it was your birthday, I got a Snicker’s bar and put a candle on it. As you arrived back to the staff living quarters, a group of us surprised you with singing Happy Birthday and you blowing out the match we used for a candle. After the chorus and candle was blown, you strategically sliced the Snicker’s bar to share with the group.

A day or so passed when you realized that you did not call your mom on your birthday. You excused yourself from the gathering of friends on the front porch to go call your mom. You apologized to your mom for not calling on your birthday and you commented to her; “I was out with April and a few other friends.” Your mom’s reply; “Who’s April?”

April Hill-Hawkins

Since the Snicker’s bar was shared, the phone call to your mom was made, a lot has happened. First, your mom learned quickly the identity of April. We have not only enjoyed 29 years of being together but we have shared 27 years of wedded bliss. Together we raised a cool son who is now married to one sweet and cool gal.

Drew and Megan doing one of their fun poses on their wedding day.

Tomorrow,  you celebrate another milestone birthday; um, um….50th which is nowadays the new 30. Right?  A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a John Mellencamp concert together. As we listened to the concert, we both went down memory lane of not only our childhood and teenage days but we were soon reminded of our days dating and starting out as a new couple. Ever since we met, we have always enjoyed a good song, a good laugh, long drives out in the country, and enjoyed the blessings God has given us.

Jim trying to wake me up in the mornings!

May today not only be a day of looking back on the fun-filled memories that life has given you these past 50 years. But, may it be a new chapter in your life with more blessings and laughs shared with family, lots of good music, many more drives out in the country in your mid-life convertible and taking that dream trip of driving down A1A.

 Tomorrow will be  another milestone for you. However, you won’t have to worry about calling your mom because she along with your dad  and other family  have been here over the weekend to celebrate.  And, this time you didn’t  have to explain the identity of April to your mom.


Yes, you have already have been celebrating but in this family we believe in stretching out the celebrations. Tomorrow is the actual day of  YOUR special day. Do you remember the one thing they always said  on the Emmaus walk; “you thought this moment was awesome. just wait it only gets better.” As your special day unfolds, just know that it will only get better. It is not only true for the day but I know it is true for you in the days ahead.

When God created you, he created a walking example of compassion for those you encounter in life. Along with compassion, you have a passion for life, Christ-like love, grace and understanding. So, here  is to the great 50 years of life that God has blessed you with where in turn you have blessed others. Also, here is to 50 more years of being young and grovin’.

Jim in his younger years.

Jim getting ready to enjoy John Mellencamp concert.

HAPPY 50TH!!

Love you,

April

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